CalPERS Devises “Heads I Win, Tails You Lose” Gamble for Long-Term Care Policyholders in Settlement

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Excerpt:

The graphic “Settlement Bet” shows options that policyholders have to choose from in the Settlement. The graphic “Settlement Happens??” shows the consequences of the “Settlement Bets” if the Settlement happens or not.

Policyholders not wanting to terminate their CalPERS policies will select not to participate (“opt out”) in the Settlement (as participation will end policyholders’ policies if the Settlement is approved).

Policyholders whose preference in light of announced rate increases would be to terminate because of the new CalPERS rate increases can be divided into two groups in light of the Settlement options: (1) those that wish simply to terminate and stop paying premiums; and (2) those who wish to terminate but are prepared to gamble with CalPERS to get a refund.

In making these choices, all policyholders are being forced to gamble a lot of money. Why the Settlement is structured as a gamble is unclear, but it is. That seems incredibly unfair to policyholders who can ill afford more financial losses after their losses already caused by CalPERS LTC.

Author(s): Yves Smith, Lawrence Grossman

Publication Date: 23 Sept 2021

Publication Site: naked capitalism

Audit finds California regularly sends pension checks to dead people

Link: https://www.thepress.net/news/state/audit-finds-california-regularly-sends-pension-checks-to-dead-people/article_df529bf9-e765-504f-bcd3-f40a217c1f98.html

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An audit of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, America’s largest public pension fund, found regular payments to pensioners well after they died, so much so it’s challenging to get the money back. 

Around 1,800 CalPERS pensioners die every month, according to a June memorandum from the fund’s Office of Audit Services that recently become public. CalPERS had more than $41 million in wrongful pension payments outstanding as of July 31, 2020, the audit said. It estimated CalPERS made those payments to about 22,000 dead pensioners.

The CalPERS Death and Survivor Benefits Division (DSBD) is responsible for verifying a pensioner has passed away and stopping payment. The audit found this process is done by a part-time employee that’s not given regular supervisory oversight.

…..

Of the sample of 30 cases audited, the report found DSBD learned pensioners had died an average of 47 months after the date of their deaths, resulting in $2.34 million in wrongful payments that had yet to be recovered. 

Author(s): Cole Lauterbach, The Center Square

Publication Date: 20 Sept 2021

Publication Site: The Press

CalPERS’ Long-Term Care Fiasco: Private Burial to Hide Malfeasance, Failure to Implement Legislation

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The ongoing CalPERS long-term care insurance program crisis continues to unravel. It is also  revealing overarching behavior which is both unethical and contrary to law.

CalPERS announced insurance premium increases of 52%-90% that become effective very shortly, at the same time that CalPERS has agreed to a class action lawsuit settlement over its last 85% rate increase.  (In my next article I will discuss why I suspect the settlement is another con job by CalPERS.)  But here I first must address a shocking revelation previously unreported about CalPERS long-term care insurance program (LTC) which needs to be recognized before moving on to the issues of the proposed settlement.

There is new and truly disturbing information about the CalPERS long-term care insurance program from a recent review of the enabling legislation prepared by a former California Deputy Attorney General and Court of Appeal Attorney, Linda J. Vogel.

According to Vogel’s analysis, the CalPERS long-term care insurance program  since inception in 1991 has operated contrary to law.

Author(s): Lawrence Grossman

Publication Date: 15 Sept 2021

Publication Site: naked capitalism

California Pensions Improve Slightly, Still Deep in the Red

Link: https://www.theepochtimes.com/california-pensions-improve-slightly-still-deep-in-the-red_4003251.html

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The 80 percent mark long has been considered the minimum threshold for a pension fund. However, that’s actually still too low. An Issue Brief by the American Academy of Actuaries called it, “The 80% Pension Funding Standard Myth” (pdf).

It said, “An 80 percent funded ratio often has been cited in recent years as a basis for whether a pension plan is financially or ‘actuarially’ sound. Left unchallenged, this misinformation can gain undue credibility with the observer, who may accept and in turn rely on it as fact, thereby establishing a mythic standard. … Pension plans should have a strategy in place to attain or maintain a funded status of 100 percent or greater over a reasonable period of time.”

Author(s): John Seiler

Publication Date: 19 Sept 2021

Publication Site: The Epoch Times

OP-ED: Wildfires aren’t the only things burning in California

Link: https://antiochherald.com/2021/09/op-ed-wildfires-arent-the-only-things-burning-in-california/

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As many Contra Costa residents are well aware, the county fire departments have absorbed ambulance services – previously provided by private operators at a lower cost to taxpayers – to pad their already bloated pensions since 2016. What many residents probably don’t know, is that 60 to 80 percent of the fire department’s budget goes to paying off their pension obligations. The California Pension Tracker notes that the market basis pension liability per household is $81,634. That sum surpasses many residents’ annual income. To fund upcoming pension payments that are currently underfunded, fire unions have called for additional tax measures and service redistribution that ultimately leaves county residents at a disadvantage. So, while residents are seeing costs go up, they’re seeing EMS response times and quality of care diminish. That’s just not right.

Author(s): Mark Fernwood

Publication Date: 9 September 2021

Publication Site: Antioch Herald

California Lawmakers Unanimously Approve the State’s First Basic Income Program

Link: https://reason.com/2021/07/16/california-lawmakers-unanimously-approve-the-states-first-basic-income-program/

Excerpt:

On Thursday, the California legislature unanimously passed a budget trailer bill that will create the state’s first guaranteed income pilot program.

Under the lawmakers’ plan, the state’s Department of Social Services (DSS) will get $35 million to dole out in grants to cities and counties that will then set up local basic income schemes. Grants will be prioritized for programs focusing on “pregnant individuals” and young adults 21 or older who’ve aged out of extended foster care programs.

State Sen. Dave Cortese (D–San Jose) said in a press release Thursday that participants of these pilot programs could end up receiving monthly payments of as much as $1,000 each.

Author(s): CHRISTIAN BRITSCHGI

Publication Date: 16 July 2021

Publication Site: Reason

Without Enough Boots on the Ground, California’s Vaccination Efforts Falter

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Lackluster vaccination uptake drove the Newsom administration to pursue the more personal approach that public health experts favor, but the still-nascent campaign leaves out large swaths of the state. The administration launched its “Get Out the Vax” campaign in April, enlisting 70 community-based organizations and 2,000 community canvassers, now focused on Los Angeles and Central Valley neighborhoods where vaccinations have plateaued or declined.

But county public health officials say the campaign isn’t big enough to combat the vaccine misinformation that has infiltrated regions such as California’s rural north.

Author(s): Angela Hart

Publication Date: 29 June 2021

Publication Site: Kaiser Health News

Waking from Bankruptcy Shock, Stockton Comes Back to Life

Link: https://www.governing.com/now/waking-from-bankruptcy-shock-stockton-comes-back-to-life

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The metrics on the OGSP give a high-level view of how progress can be measured, but they are just part of the data that Regan’s office collects. Hundreds of other data points are in a performance scorecard that includes factors that contribute to attainment of large targets such as reduced crime rate.

High-level goals may take time to achieve. The StocktonStat portal, scheduled for launch on June 30, will include data on the number of potholes and streetlights repaired, or square feet of graffiti removed, says Regan. “The stat process, and this shared data, are part of a continuous conversation and relentless follow up toward our performance targets.”

Author(s): Carl Smith

Publication Date: 16 June 2021

Publication Site: Governing

Which US vaccine plans actually helped hard-hit communities?

Link: https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/06/07/1025824/us-vaccine-equity-success-story/

Excerpt:

One success story took place in Philadelphia, thanks to an effective collaboration between two health systems and Black community leaders. Recognizing that the largely online signup process was hard for older people or those without internet access, Penn Medicine and Mercy Catholic Medical Center created a text-message-based signup system as well as a 24/7 interactive voice recording option that could be used from a land line, with doctors answering patients’ questions before appointments. Working with community leaders, the program held its first clinic at a church and vaccinated 550 people.

….

In Alabama, for example, National Guard mobile vaccination units were set up with the ultra-cold freezers needed to transport and store mRNA-based covid-19 vaccines. “Why not, when this particular push is over, leave those freezer units with the federally qualified health centers that are already in those communities?” McClure says. “You’re starting to build the infrastructure for being able to deliver vaccination on a consistent basis.”

Author(s): Mia Sato

Publication Date: 7 June 2021

Publication Site: MIT Technology Review

Alameda County Updates COVID-19 Death Calculation to Align with State Definitions

Link: https://covid-19.acgov.org/covid19-assets/docs/press/press-release-2021.06.04.pdf

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Today, June 4, Alameda County’s COVID-19 dashboard will be updated to reflect
the total number of COVID-19 deaths using the State’s death reporting definition. Alameda County previously included any person who died while infected with the virus in the total COVID-19 deaths for the County. Aligning with the State’s definition will require Alameda County to report as COVID-19 deaths only those people who died as a direct result of COVID-19, with COVID-19 as a contributing cause of death, or in whom death caused by COVID-19 could not be ruled out. Based on data available as of May 23, 2021, this update will decrease the overall number of deaths from 1,634 to 1,223.

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This update does not disproportionally impact reported deaths for any specific race or ethnic group or zip code.

Close observers of Alameda County’s dashboard may have noticed a substantial increase in the COVID-19 death totals prior to this update, during the week of May 17. This increase was due to a separate quality assurance process intended to correct previously incomplete data; adjustments were made based on additional information that became available regarding date of death and county of residence. These corrections are unrelated to the current alignment with the State’s definition of death due to COVID-19, and some of the deaths will be removed from the updated totals because COVID-19 was not a contributing cause.

Author(s): Neetu Balram

Publication Date: 4 June 2021

Publication Site: Alameda County Health Care Services Agency

California county cuts COVID-19 death toll by 25% after finding some deaths ‘clearly not’ caused by virus

Link: https://news.yahoo.com/california-county-cuts-covid-19-151921394.html

Excerpt:

California county cut its COVID-19 death toll by around 25% after determining that some deaths were not a “direct result” of the virus.

Alameda County revised the total number of deaths caused by the coronavirus to 1,223, down from 1,634.

County officials decided to revise the numbers to align with the California Department of Public Health’s guidance on how to classify deaths. The county previously included deaths of anyone infected with the virus, regardless of whether COVID-19 was a direct or contributing cause of death.

Author(s): Peter Aitken

Publication Date: 6 June 2021

Publication Site: Yahoo News

My Word | The rhetoric does not match the arithmetic on public pensions

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In 2015 Eureka started paying down its unfunded pension liability. These pension debt payments were $921,000 in 2015, $1 million in 2016, $3.9 million in 2017, $4.6 million in 2018, $5.4 million in 2019, and $5.7 million in 2020. Going forward, these debt payments will increase from $6 million in 2021 to $8.4 million in 2029, and are currently scheduled to continue until 2038. In 2015, Eureka cut $834,000 from the Eureka Police Department budget. Heading into budget talks in early 2020, EPD Chief Steve Watson talked of how EPD had seen a 19% reduction in staffing since 2016. Eureka followed up these previous cuts to EPD in its FY 2020-2021 budget with a funding cut of $1.1 million and loss of six more positions, including four officers, for EPD.

…..

The rhetoric does not match the arithmetic. Pension debt payments are funding taken out of the budget and represent tax dollars that are not invested in the community and that citizens see no current services for. Not exactly keeping funding local. With so many governmental agencies in the same debilitated economic situation due to pension obligations, the economic evidence does not support the claim of governments being prudent in their spending. Constant increases in funding for pension obligations along with cuts to law enforcement and other services do not support the idea that tax dollars are the taxpayers’ dollars as a priority expenditure.

Author(s): Patrick Cloney

Publication Date: 2 June 2021

Publication Site: Times-Standard